It shouldn’t be much of a surprise when Big Oil tells us that our path to jobs and prosperity is to drill for more oil and natural gas. What is surprising is just how misleading its new multimillion-dollar advertising campaign is. But what the industry isn’t highlighting is that we are exporting record amounts of refined oil (gasoline and diesel) out of the U.S. In fact, recent news reports show that refined oil products are now the U.S.’s No. 1 export. We still import half of our crude oil needs, but anemic domestic demand combined with high domestic oil production has resulted in an oversupplied domestic market, providing incentive to refiners to export.
What does that do? It keeps prices high, of course. And that’s really what the oil industry is after: more drilling (without having to abide by rules prohibiting the fouling of the environment or the poisoning of people), more oil, more exports, high gas prices, more money.
We are awash in energy supplies. We are the third-largest oil producer on the planet, and the second-largest natural gas producer. But we remain the largest consumer of fossil fuel energy, which is unsustainable from the standpoint of price, climate, water use and our environment.
Who loses? You, me and everyone else who gases up at the pump. We will lose even more if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved. That’s just a conduit to export even more gasoline, because it will be piped from Canada to the Gulf Coast refineries then put on ships.
The problem is not inadequate access to domestic resources. It’s that we still don’t have enough clean alternatives. We need to invest more in rooftop solar and wind power. We need to develop more mass transit and more electric cars. We need to wean ourselves off oil.
So don’t be fooled by the slick ads. The message is just more of the same from a polluting, deceptive and price-gouging industry that is focused solely on its bottom line. American families can’t afford Big Oil’s status quo.
Tyson Slocum is Public Citizen’s Energy program director.